Thursday, 30 October 2008

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The current games industry

*Rant about how I really want to spend a large part of my student loan on about six videogames all released within a month of each other but really, really shouldn't*.

Whilst the cost of making games has continued to rise dramatically (up to $40 million), I still find it hard to realise that purchasing a £40-£50 game is actually good value for money. A short exerpt of an article about the current state of economy claimed computer games to be recession-proof and I found myself agreeing.

What have I been doing for the past couple of weeks?
Sitting at home playing videogames and drinking beer (also recession proof)
Erm, I mean working on all of my course projects, obviously....
I found myself asking, why go to the cinema when I've got my immersive games? Why pay so much to get into a club that'll make me deaf, deform my feet from wearing heels and probably end up falling down some stairs when I'd rather do that at home when no ones watching...

It's all about money, it always has been.
It's old news that game companies have finally realised the potential to make more money by appealing to other areas of the market. The next generation of family gaming has welcomed Nintendos Wii console with open arms. Whilst the graphics certainly can't rival microsofts Xbox360 or Sonys Playstation3, Nintendo has realised this and skipped off in a whole different, more innovative direction of its own, making good use out of more interactive technologies of accelorators and motion sensors in the wii remote and touch screen in the Nintendo DS, with both still incorporating the familiar D-Pad.

I'm more of a casual gamer than anything but both of these left me wanting. Quite obviously the Wii is a slightly cheaper but more "fun" investment for parents to buy for their kids. Although I love my DS, I only have one game that I consistently play (Animal crossing). This is because when I go into a game store wondering whether to buy an Xbox game or a Wii/DS game, it's like choosing between going to Butlins or Center Parcs. I know where I'd rather go.

Back to the point though. Games cost increasing amounts of money and the only people losing out are the companies. Which is why we have seen an increase of film based games and sequels. It's a lot harder to start making a game from scratch; there's more of everything involved - more time, money, research etc needed. Using a film franchise or a popular game for a sequel ensures a consumer market already exists therefore is less of a risk to produce.

The more dedicated gamer, however, is always wanting more - new gameplay, even more realistic graphics, the best story ever known to man, the depth of the ocean, smellivision! No matter how brilliant and awesome we think a game is, there's always something newer and ever so slightly better around the corner as the companies continue to strive towards perfection in a critical, competitive & expensive industry.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Gaming evolves

Following numerous amounts of links saturated with dates, names and numbers, so far all I have managed to produce is a headache.

I feel like a bit of a fraud trying to write about something I have no knowledge of apart from the writings of other people if that makes sense. Maybe thats why I don't like learning about history, it would be better if I had been there and not just have to look through piles of text books, not that I don't find it interesting though.
Moving swiftly on.
The early eighties saw the introduction of 'pac-man' designed as a break from the many shoot-em-ups, it took on a cartoon style that game designer Moru Iwatani hoped would appeal as much to women as to men. Extremely popular in Japan, it was the first video game to produce merchandise en masse. Back on the computer, the adventure genre renamed "interactive fiction" was proving popular. Based on novels, actions were made using text commands and no graphics! just the power of your imagination, dun dun duuun....
These died out and made way for point-and-clicks with graphic interfaces as seen in the 90's puzzle adventure 'Myst'. I think I got stuck on that, now I feel stupid.
Anyway, these years saw other genres begin to emerge such as the scrolling shooter and racing games, not forgetting the progression of audio in games which plays a large part in creating atmosphere nowadays.

The most popular formats in the early eighties were the 'Commodore 64' in America and 'Sinclair ZX Spectrum' in the UK which would eventually give way for capabilities of higher resolutions and better sound, which are still continual improvements being made today and in the future. A cheaper alternative to these formats was the emergance of handheld games, starting with Nintendo's 'Game & Watch' in 1980 and then their popular 'Gameboy' in 1989.

ZOMGXPLOSION! ......yup, that was the videogame crash of 1983, all because of the rubbish game that was 'E.T. the extra-Terrestrial', well maybe just a part of it. A couple of years later the NES arrives, along with it the blueprint for all controllers produced thereafter; it consisted of a D-pad and two action buttons. More genres emerged as a result, and some of the most popular games series such as 'Final Fantasy' (RPG), 'Legend of Zelda', 'Metal Gear' (stealth) and 'Sweet Home' (survival horror) which admittedly, I've never heard of.
The 90's introduced internet gaming with multiplayer capable games and simple browser-based games whereas coin-operated arcades were on the downfall as people just waited for them to be available on consoles instead. Later on in the decade, Sonys playstation arrived as the main competitor for all consoles at that time. CD format was now the norm, apart from the 'Nintendo 64' which was still a success but none quite so as the Playstation.


Ps. I forgot to put 'Sims' in somewhere....Sims ftw.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The dawn of computer games

The definition of what was classed as a computer game back then is a little hazy to me, but 1947 is the earliest date I have found where a missile simulator game was created by a T.Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. This was followed 5 years later by a graphic tic-tac-toe game by A.S.Douglas, who seemed like more of an academic, focusing on the technological side rather than the 'fun' side of gaming.
In comparison, the next notable computer game was created by William Higginbotham in 1958. This game was called 'Tennis for two' and he has been described as a "fun-loving character and self-confessed pinball player", much more the characteristics of a gamer creating something for his passion.
A few years later was the invention of 'Spacewar', made by three students in 1961. Apparently moving clumps of pixels redefined the word "fun". However, from these simple yet addictive games, a whole new form of entertainment was born into arcades and then households worldwide.
The rest of the 60s introduced gaming into the home with Ralph Baers creating the first 'video' game that could be used on a basic television set which led eventually to the founding of Atari and the release of 'Pong' in 1972, the most commonly known of the earliest games. In the late 70's, we saw the introduction of the eternally infamous classics such as 'Space invaders' by taito, 'Asteroids' and 'Pac-man' with these retro icons bringing a sense a nostalgia to the more "mature" gamer.

Blogs in general.

So I decided to write about this blog:

http://jennskistudio.blogspot.com/ by a graphic designer/ artist

It seems like she's promoting websites, products and designers she likes whilst mixing in a bit of her own life and what she's all about. I think there's almost always a personal opinion included in what people post, after all, you only blog on something that interests you, whether it's like or dislike.
There seems to be quite a heavy use of images which are always good as a visual stimulator to help keep things interesting and get your point across.
She writes every few days, so enough for dedication but not on the obsessive side.

Personally I find it quite easy to write a blog. There's not too much pressure, you can take your time and sure, I know other people are going to read this but it doesn't bother me too much because I can't see them reading it, I can't hear them saying "what the hell is she on about?" so I pretty much feel at ease.
However, I've always been completely average at writing, trying to use words that just aren't a part of my normal vocabulary seems alien. Now I can just write to my hearts content about something I am actually interested in and not some poem about a psycho hitchhiker or something, thank you very much gcse english.